Thursday, 12 January 2017

Duke Nukem Mobile (Tapwave Zodiac review)

Developer: MachineWorks NorthWest
Publisher: Tapwave
Released: 2004
 

Duke Nukem Mobile is a first-person shooter that was also ported to mobile phones in 2005.
 

There's 21 bite-sized missions and the objective in each is to defeat every alien, pick up the key card and head for the exit. At your disposal is a Pistol, Shotgun, RPG, Pipe Bombs and your trusty Mighty Foot! Each level is compact and usually comprises of one small area that can be completed in around one minute. The action is very Arcade-like in terms of mowing down wave-after-wave of enemies and in that sense it harkens back to games such as Robotron: 2084 (1982, Arcades). The controls are crisp and the shoulder buttons do a fantastic job of letting you strafe with precision and fluidity. The auto-aim is also generous so you never have to perfectly line-up to hit your intended target. Each enemy type has a unique ability to keep things interesting (e.g. Enforcers rush towards you at lightning speed, while Assault Troopers shoot from distance) and I love that they're not immune to each other's projectiles! It's basically classic Duke-fun and while the gameplay can be repetitive there is some mission variety, such as disabling RoboGuns or refraining from shooting explosive gas tanks. Some later missions are longer (and by that I mean they take two minutes to beat!) but the frame-rate starts to dip which can affect your aim. Some levels contain bosses but they only put up a marginally better fight than all other enemies. The graphics are impressive with tons of texture detail and an excellent draw distance, and the voice clips from Duke give the game tons of personality. However, the fact that you can clear the entire set of missions in around 20-30 minutes is criminal (with little-to-no difference between the Easy, Medium and Hard settings) and there aren't even any other modes to unlock.
 
Duke Nukem Mobile is a great shooter while it lasts, but the sparse amount of content makes it feel like a tacked-on Mission mode to what should be a much bigger game. The hardware can clearly handle Duke Nukem 3D (a homebrew version exists for the Zodiac) and it's puzzling why the developers didn't attempt a full port instead.
 
 
 
Random trivia: The ending promises a sequel called Duke Nukem Mobile II: Bikini Project which never arrived on the Zodiac (although it was released on mobiles in 2005).

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